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Constitutional amendments altering Kentucky election schedule, education funding introduced

Josh James

A pair of constitutional amendments are on the move in the Kentucky General Assembly — one that would move elections for statewide constitutional officers to even-numbered years, and another that would allow for state dollars to flow into non-public schools.

Senate Bill 10 marks the latest attempt by Kentucky lawmakers to do away with odd-numbered year elections for statewide offices — those include the governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor. If the move is successful this year, Kentucky voters would need to approve it at the ballot box. Candidates elected in 2027 would serve a 5-year term until 2032.

The bill easily cleared its first committee hurdle, but not unanimously. Louisville Democrat Casey Chambers Armstrong said the off-year elections give Kentucky voters a chance to zero in on state-specific issues.

"Nowadays with national division, with presidential elections lasting for years and eating up the airwaves, I think it's really important that the people of Kentucky have space to focus on Kentucky issues," she said.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer countered that, despite record spending, the odd-year elections aren't seeing increasing foot traffic.

"People are getting less and less interested in our statewide races," the GOP leader said. "Turnout was down over eight percent... in 2023, than in was in 2019."

Proponents argue the change will increase participation and save the state money.

In the meantime, another constitutional amendment — House Bill 208 — has been filed. It would create avenue for the state to funnel education dollars into private and charter schools.

Amendments to the Kentucky Constitution must clear a higher bar in the General Assembly, gaining support from at least three-fifths of each legislative body to make the statewide ballot in even-numbered years.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.